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Terps have challenging nonconference hoops schedule

Maryland's just-released men's hoops schedule is out, and the non-conference portion appears to be upgraded -- mostly because of the top-grade competition in the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.

I knew about most of the opponents in advance -- as most of you did as well. But it's still fun to get the schedule, look at the dates and times. Happy schedule day!

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The Terps will play at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 18 against Pittsburgh, then play either Illinois or Texas the following night. The Terps always have a challenging early-season tournament -- and this one more than qualifies.

"Our non-conference schedule is as tough as any we've played since I've been here," coach Gary Williams said in prepared comments that Maryland provided along with the schedule. "This will give us a chance to become a better basketball team as we head forward to conference play."

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More Williams: "The 2K Sports Classic benefitting Coaches vs. Cancer is a very good tournament. Starting with our first two games at home, then in New York you have a Big 12, Big Ten and Big East team with us. That will be one of the top tournaments in November this season."

I like the matchups with the Philadelphia schools -- Temple and Villanova.

Temple plays the Terps on Dec. 5 in in the BB&T Classic at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C..

The Owls are coached by Fran Dunphy, who was on Gary Williams' staff at American University. Dunphy later coached at Penn, which played the Terps while he was there.

The Terrapins will also have a nationally televised matchup with Villanova at Philadelphia's Wachovia Center on Saturday, Jan. 15. That's a rematch. Villanova beat Maryland in last season's BB&T Classic. Good game.

'Nova, Temple, Pittsburgh and Illinois/Texas -- that's the heart of your non-conference schedule right there, along with Penn State on Dec. 1 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Oh, yes. The Terps also play a team called "Duke." The games are Jan. 9 at Cameron and Feb. 2 at Comcast.

The Terps close the regular season at home versus Virginia on March 5. Maryland was fortunate last season to get Duke on Senior Night. It made for an adrenalin rush of a game, right?

Just one game with North Carolina again this season. It's at the Dean Dome on Feb. 27.

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